A Right Attitude – A Joyful Heart

I have noticed something new in our house lately: an almost-constant bad attitude in Kate. All day for the past few days, she continually disobeys, is mean to Caroline, and sulks or talks back when I give her instructions or correction. Usually, after a talk, a spanking, and a snuggle, she is cheerful and can more easily obey me immediately with a good attitude. This has not been the case recently, and instead it seems as if she almost immediately looks for ways to disobey or to do something spiteful to Caroline. Since I’ve noticed this, I’ve been praying with her more often, and I’ve been asking the Lord to show her her sin and her need for Christ. I want her to learn to be self-controlled instead of being controlled by her emotions or desires, but that alone is not enough. She needs a Savior! What a responsibility it is to point one so young to the Lord! I so clearly see her selfishness and her anger when she doesn’t get her way while playing with toys with Caroline. I see that she feels as if things are “not fair” or as if she’s not getting the good things that she deserves if I say she can’t have another cookie after supper. I can almost hear her saying, “I am so frustrated that I’m not getting all of the things that I want that I’m not going to pay attention to the other wonderful things I already have. I am so mad that Caroline wants to play with the same toys that I want to play with that I can’t enjoy actually having someone to play with instead of playing alone. I am so indignant that Mama would deny me another cookie that I’m not enjoying the cookie that I just finished, and I have almost forgotten that I ate it at all. The world is not fair, I am not getting what I deserve, and I don’t like it!”

I’ve realized, though, that I so often act the same way! I am so frustrated with the girls’ disobedience or arguing that I don’t enjoy or make good use of our time together each day. I get so angry that Bryan and I haven’t had enough time to spend alone that when we finally do have some time, I’m grumpy and distant and anything but warm and kind, and neither of us enjoy our time together. I do kind things for others out of obligation, and inside I begrudge some part of the time I gave or the money or effort I spent. I’ve heard from other moms that our children can really be gifts from God to help us in our own sanctification, and this is so true for me. Seeing my child’s inward disobedience (even at times when she is outwardly obeying), her selfishness, her discontentment, and her complaining has shown me even more clearly my own sin in each of these areas and so many others.

I have not only seen my sin mirrored in my children, but I have been confronted with it by my Heavenly Father. In the midst of an argument the other night, God stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized that I was arguing for my rights, for what I “deserve”, for what I want. I was suddenly aware of the anger built up inside of me and coming from my mouth. But God did something amazing. He stepped in when I wasn’t even wanting Him to. He changed my heart when I was selfishly wanting my own way. He filled me with love and compassion when a minute before I had been full of anger. He gave me joy when I had been living in discontentment, stress, and frustration. He reminded me the very thing I already know and have been trying to teach Kate: I can’t do this alone! I am so grateful for a God who does not leave me to wallow in my selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, and discontentment. I am so very thankful that He sent His Son to this world to die in my place and rise from the dead, triumphant. I am so thankful that he did not stop there, but that He constantly draws me closer to Himself and makes me new. Even when I pull back, He pulls me close again and reminds me of my need for Him. He shows me my sin and failure and gives me peace and joy because He has paid for it all! He is the one who can help me to “do everything without complaining or arguing” and to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:14, I Thes. 5:16-18) and who can help me teach my daughters to do the same. I can think of nothing else to say but, “Praise be to God!”

Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 11:45 am  Comments (2)  

Difficult days

This past week, I had a miscarriage. I was in my first trimester, and we had just told friends and family and announced our good news on facebook. We had been praying for this baby, and it was so fun to watch Kate’s excitement as she told people how “God answered us and said yes!” A few days after we made our happy news public, the miscarriage started, and by late Monday we knew for sure that we had lost the baby.

My days have their ups and downs. Mornings are usually more hopeful, and I have more emotional reserves to deal with whatever stresses come from caring for children or living overseas. Afternoons lately have been hard. I’m tired, but not sleepy enough to take a nap. I’m lonely, but I don’t want to talk to anyone. I know life is not going to be normal and rosy right now, and so I try to take the advice from a friend who has been here before: just get through today. And really, this is the same thing that Jesus said. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. I trust that God will provide, that He is faithful. He is my hiding place and my comforter. I pray that He will bless us with more children in the future, and for now I’ll wait patiently and lean on Him. I want to learn what He is teaching me. I want to let this loss break off some of the rough places on my heart. I want to let Him mold me into something usable for His purposes. It hurts, but I trust Him.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 3:35 am  Comments (1)  

New apartment

Yesterday we moved into our new apartment. I had only seen it once, briefly, and in some ways I had to be convinced of its worth. Once we moved all of our bags here and the boxes that we had left at some friends’ houses, Bryan went out to get some supper for us. I started looking through the rooms and in the cabinets and dressers, and I got pretty discouraged. Everything was either broken or filthy or both, and the apartment which was supposed to be fully furnished was not at all. The drawers in the living room were missing their pulls and had ashes in them, there were bits of debris on the floor (which meant I couldn’t put Caroline down), the refrigerator and freezer were dirty, and the water heater wouldn’t work. There were only three plates, there were no utensils, the cupboards had spilled pasta in them, and the “clean” dishes weren’t clean. Then there were the problems the landlord was supposed to have taken care of before we moved in. The rolling radiator we had been promised for the kitchen was there, but it didn’t work. The disposable “carpet” in the girls’ room hadn’t been removed, and the large replacement carpet was balled up by their door. There was a huge pile of trash in the back yard. Finally, the whole place was freezing, there were no comforters or blankets, and we were all exhausted.
With some prayers and deep breaths, I managed to keep calm and do all I could to get supper made and everyone ready for bed.
I was completely overwhelmed, but I fell asleep pretty easily because I was so tired. Caroline slept the best she has here so far and was only up for 45 minutes or so. We all slept in a little bit, and when we woke up, it was amazing to see how many of those things seemed unimportant.
Now it is a few days later, and we are at a coffee shop. The girls are here and are sleepy, so I can’t really finish this like I would like to. To finish quickly, I can say that most of the cleaning has been done, and while we don’t have regular hot water, we are taking baths and boiling lots of water instead. We are doing very well, and we should have internet soon. Yay!

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Testing posting a video

Here is a video of Kate that I took the other day. I’m trying to figure out the best way to post videos.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 3:48 am  Leave a Comment  

We’re here!

We made it! We arrived on Wednesday night late, and we’re still dealing with jetlag. (It’s Sunday night here right now.) The girls haven’t been sleeping between the hours of 1AM and 5:30AM, which means that I haven’t either. I’m pretty sleepy, but doing very well emotionally. It feels SO good to be back! We have been able to see a lot of our friends (although we haven’t been able to see all of them yet), and we are staying with some good friends. We went to church this morning at the church that we now consider our home church, and it was so encouraging. Everything feels quite comfortable since it is so familiar. I’m sure we will still deal with our share of culture shock, but for now we are feeling like we have come home in a way. I think once we have an apartment of our own, this will feel even more like home. (Bryan is actually out looking at apartments now.) I’ve been falling asleep while writing this, so I think I should go to bed!

Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Getting ready to go

I’m waiting for the chiropractor, so I thought I’d post. Things at home are quite messy with boxes, suitcases, and stacks of clothes. We leave next wednesday, and there’s a lot to do between now and then. One great thing though is that we have probably sold our car! There is a man who is interested, and he wanted us to have the dealership check it out. It passed with flying colors, so we’re expecting him to buy it since he was the one who paid for the car’s checkup. We should know soon!

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where to begin

Well, it sure has been a while! I’m going to try to post more regularly, especially after we move. (Oh yeah, minor detail that I haven’t mentioned…we’re moving overseas in less than two weeks! We’re SO excited, and we can’t wait to get back to where we were living in 2009 and early 2010!) One thing that should make it easier for me to post is that Bryan got me this new phone that I can post from. I’m having fun right now figuring out how to use it and adding apps. I’m white impressed with how easy it is to type!
Bryan and I went out on a date tonight, which is when he gave me my phone. It’s the first date we’ve been on since a few months after Caroline was born, and we had fun!




Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Cloth diapers

I’ve been asked about cloth diapers many times, and each time I’ve emailed the friend who asked with information about the diapers I like. I decided it would be easier to put the information all in one place so that I could direct any future friends who ask to my blog. I’m also planning to add posts about other baby items that I’ve found helpful.

Before Kate was born, I bought or requested a few different kinds of cloth diapers. I had a number of unbleached cotton Chinese prefolds in two different sizes (small and medium). To fasten these diapers, I used Snappis, which are a great alternative to diaper pins.  and a number of Kissaluv fitted diapers in small and medium (size 0 and 1). These sizes fit longer than disposable sizes 0 and 1. Kate still wear the size 1 cloth diapers at night since they’re made to fit until the child is 25 pounds. They work well for smaller babies or for potty training toddlers since they only hold so much. They are very easy to put on and don’t require any folding or anything, and they have snaps built in that allow you to adjust the size.

My favorite diaper covers are Bummis Whisper Pants. I tried some of the wool diaper covers, but they didn’t work as well and were really restricting of movement which Kate hated. The whisper pants are thin, comfortable, washable, last well, and keep in moisture really well. I also enjoyed using homemade fleece diaper covers that attached with velcro. You can usually find these online on Ebay or Etsy. I made mine during Kate’s naptime one afternoon with free fabric, elastic, and velcro from the sewing room on our campus.

I bought my diapers from Baby Because and had excellent service from them. (I emailed them recently since some of the items I purchased weren’t on their website, and they said they are redoing the website and so some items aren’t displayed. If you’re interested in buying from them, I’d recommend calling or emailing  since they sell some of these items that aren’t listed on the website for good prices.)

One benefit of the kinds of diapering supplies that I’ve listed above is that they are all very helpful during potty training, too.  I still carry around some Chinese prefolds in a plastic bag in our car to put inside of our Potette portable potty. By using these, we don’t have to use the special disposable inserts that they sell with the potty. We use this portable potty so that Kate has a quick place to go potty instead of using public restrooms. This was GREAT on our long trips to Iowa and Virginia recently. As I mentioned above, the larger fitted diapers and larger Whisper pants have been useful for nighttime and naptime diapers for Kate. The only extra things I purchased for potty training were a few packages of Gerber training pants. I used the Whisper pants on top when she was having more accidents, and in the very beginning of training I used two training pants at the same time for extra protection.

I am a big fan of cloth diapers for many reasons. After the initial investment, they save lots of money since disposables are expensive. They are also great for using in places overseas where you can’t get disposables or where you’re hesitant to use the ones that are available. I also strangely enjoy the end result of putting dirty diapers in the washing machine and taking out fresh, clean diapers for my babies. (I’m positive I wouldn’t enjoy this as much if I had to wash them by hand all of the time.) Another great thing is that most stains on diapers (and ALL stains while a baby is still breastfed) disappear within an hour or two just by placing them in the sun. Cloth diapers have helped with Kate’s sensitive skin, they’ve saved us money, and they’re just cute!

In my next post, I will share more about our experience  with “elimination communication”, natural infant hygiene, or infant potty training. It’s another great tool to add to a mama’s toolbox. 🙂

Published in: on September 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crazy days

Life sure has been busy lately! Bryan is at gone for work most days from around 9:30 until 6:30. On our language learning days he comes home early, and we take turns watching Kate while the other is having a Russian lesson. My days are spent taking care of Kate, going to the market for food, washing clothes and hanging them on the line on our balcony, and occasionally visiting the office or hanging out with a friend.

This week, Bryan has meetings that last from 9 until 6, so he’s gone from 8:30 until 6:30 since it takes at least a half hour to get home on the bus. Our office has many visitors coming for different meetings, and so almost everyone is hosting guests in their homes. We originally volunteered to have one guest since we only have one spare bed/room, but somehow we ended up with two! A friend is loaning us an air mattress, and the men will either share a room, or one will sleep in the living room. They are staying for 4 nights, and then one of them is coming back a week later for a few more nights. The only problem is that I don’t have any sheets for the beds in this apartment! We’ve been using what was here when we moved in: comforters. I think today is finally the day that we will have sheets for both of the beds. 🙂 I found a place that sells them at a reasonable price, and so now I will just need to bundle Kate up (since it’s chilly outside) and we’ll go pick out ones that are the least flowery. (Most of the sheets I’ve seen here are extremely flowery or very brightly decorated.)

While we’re buying the sheets, I think we’ll also buy a butternut squash. Our family has a tradition of eating pumpkin pie, drinking spiced chai, and listening to Christmas music on November 1st, and butternut squash is the closest they have to pumpkins here! Now I just have to figure out how to carry all of this home with me! I took a quiz on another blog this morning about how similar I was to that particular blogger, and one of the items listed was about groceries being limited by what you can carry home. This is one where I definitely match, and unfortunately this applies to household goods, too! I’ll have to figure out how to carry two sets of sheets, one pillow, one butternut squash, a few other groceries, and Kate! 🙂

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 1:00 am  Comments (3)  

Our little one-year-old …AND

I am sitting and watching Kate play, and I realized that since I don’t have her baby book with me, I haven’t been recording what she is doing and what she is like at this age. I want to be able to remember all of the little things about Kate right now that I’m likely to forget over the years, and I decided it would be fun to share my observations on the blog.

Kate begins her day with a few sniffles and a yell or two, and by the time I have picked her up from her pack ‘n play, she has already said her favorite word at least once. “Uh oh” echoes through the apartment, although we’re never sure what she’s uh-ohing about so early in the morning. Until about a week ago, she was waking up around 7 or 7:30 and going to bed around 7PM. Since last week when we had a few late nights, she’s moved her schedule back to 8AM-8PM, and she has decided she doesn’t take morning naps anymore! Since this is a very new development in the Smith household, we’re still having a hard time adjusting, especially since our language lessons are in the mornings during what used to be her nap time. I’ll just keep hoping this is temporary and that she will change her mind about mornings naps very soon.

After she gets up from bed, I bring her into the living room where Bryan and I place our mattress each night, and she nurses and snuggles as we all gradually wake up. The next thing she says sometime during nursing is, “Hi, Da!” This morning she said it many times because Bryan didn’t answer right away. She loves her morning “Hi” from Daddy, and sometimes when she’s finished nursing she crawls over and gives him a kiss on the head or arm or nose. 🙂 She is quite squirmy, and we always tell her that she must not understand what snuggling is. She crawls all over the mattress and all over us, and many times she ends up using one of us as a jungle gym with our heads or noses as push-off points for her little feet as she wiggles all over. 🙂 After that, we all get up and go into the kitchen. Bryan has his tea, I have my cereal, and Kate has her breakfast of fruit, yogurt, cereal, or baby crackers. She signs for “more please,” which is really almost a clap and is pretty much exactly the same sign she uses for “potty,” unfortunately. Since she doesn’t usually sign for potty without being asked, though, we can normally figure out what she needs. Right now she is going through a screaming/squealing stage. She fusses by making a very high-pitched squeal, and when she gets VERY angry (like sometimes in the middle of the night), she screams the squeal and sounds like a ring wraith from LOTR. (Any suggestions are welcome from those of you with older children who have done the same thing or something similar. I suppose discipline at this age could be a whole different post!) So sometimes if I’m not looking and she wants more food, she’ll squeal, and then sign when I turn around. I’m trying to get her to say “Mama” to get my attention instead of screaming, but that hasn’t worked so far since she only says anything close to “Mama” when she’s VERY sad and cries, “Mommmmmmyyyyyyyyy.” She usually eats a very good breakfast.

After we’re all finished with breakfast, as long as it’s not a day for language lessons, Kate plays around the apartment while I get household work done. She babbles and sings little songs to herself while she plays, and she entertains herself very well. Some of her favorite things to play with are Bryan’s metal shoehorn, doors, her shoes (we don’t let her play with ours because they get quite dirty here), a “talking” baby doll that our language tutor gave her for her birthday, and plastic measuring spoons that I brought with me from home. If she finds Bryan’s socks anywhere, she will crawl around with one in each hand, and every once in a while she will snuggle with one up against her nose like she does with her blanket at night as she sucks her fingers, or she will try to eat them. If she finds any crumbs, pieces of leaves, fuzz, or any tiny things at all on the floor, she usually wants to eat them. I have tried to get her not to eat them so many times and have asked her to give them to me instead, and so now if she finds something, she’ll crawl over to wherever I am while pinching the tiny fleck in between her thumb and forefinger, and she’ll hold it up for me to take from her. Lots of times she’s already dropped it and doesn’t realize it, or the thing she “picked up” was a drop of paint on the floor in the kitchen. 🙂 Sometimes she is just about to eat something from the floor when she notices me watching her, and she’ll hold it up high for me instead. She says, “Uh oh!” many times while playing with all of these things. She says it whenever anything drops, of course, but she also says it if she wants to get down from being held, if there is something she wants, or if there is something she sees on the floor, like shoes, her toys, a bird outside on the sidewalk, etc. 🙂 We were watching shot put on tv the other afternoon, and whenever one of the women would throw the shot put, Kate would exclaim, “Uh oh!”

Her language use is rapidly increasing, and every so often she surprises me by coming out with something new. Yesterday, for example, I was praising her for asking for more food nicely instead of yelling, and she said very happily and very clearly, “Okay!” For some reason it reminded me of Virginia when she was little. 🙂 She has started saying some of the words with the signs that we use, such as the one for “All done.” She says, “Ahhhhh duh” when she’s finished eating or finished going to the bathroom and wants to get down from the potty. We started a new sign recently for “Down, please” when she wants me to put her down on the floor, and she often says, “Doooow peas” as she does the sign. One of her other favorite words is “Daddy,” and lots of times she’ll repeat this over an over when he’s gone and she wants to know where he is. Sometimes she says “Hi” or “Hey” and “Bye bye,” but usually she just waves.

Mama sent Kate some socks for her birthday, and since she seemed a little bit chilly, I put a pair on her as I began to type all of this. She came up to me a few minutes ago pulling on them and wanting them off, so I took them off. Now she is happily playing with them, waving them around, putting them down, and picking them up again. 🙂 Maybe I’ll let her play with those and put another pair on her feet. 🙂

Kate is a strong-willed little girl, and she gives us trouble at times with her stubbornness and temper, but she also has lots of times when she is very sweet and loving. She loves to give us kisses, and sometimes she gives hugs and pats on the shoulder. Sometimes her kisses are very forceful and she leads with the forehead so that they’re more like kisses from a little head-butting goat. 🙂

Kate loves music, especially piano music. We have a piano in our apartment right now, and she likes it when I play for her. I played for her the other day while she was eating lunch, and I looked over and she was dancing around while sitting and eating. Then when I was finished, she clapped! She knows how to make her mama feel appreciated. 🙂 She likes to sing her own songs, or to sing along when we sing to her, and she loves it when her Gee (my mother) sings to her on skype. She dances and hums along almost anytime she notices music around her. Lots of times as she is going to sleep she sings little songs in her bed, and last night when she was up in the middle of the night, I heard her singing quietly for a while before going to sleep again.

She doesn’t usually want to eat very much for lunch, unless it’s on Sundays when we eat a late lunch. I haven’t been able to find milk here that has fat in it that doesn’t taste absolutely disgusting, so she is not drinking milk from her cup yet, but she loves drinking water. Sometimes if we’re out to eat, we’ll give her a sip of Sprite or Fanta from a straw, and she likes that, too! Her favorite thing to eat when we go out is chicken mcnuggets from McDonald’s. (By the way, we are VERY impressed with the McDonald’s here. We don’t usually eat there in the States, but the food here seems to be of higher quality and is always hot and tastes fresh. The restaurant is extremely clean and well-staffed, they give Kate a balloon to play with almost every time we go, and the music and menu are in English! Well…I guess the music is, and the menu almost is if you can figure out the spellings, like the “Big Teysti” burger.) Kate eats 6 nuggets by herself, along with a few fries and sometimes a few bites of our burgers. She usually eats more for supper than for lunch, and we’ve discovered that she can be a bit of a picky eater. I don’t know if it’s because her teeth are hurting her or if she’s just being picky, but sometimes she just decides she doesn’t want to eat what we are having for a certain meal, and she’ll just sit there the entire meal and play instead of eating, even if I know she’s hungry.

Kate usually has a little snack and sits in her high chair while I’m making dinner, and after each meal she loves being cleaned off at the sink. She thinks it’s fun to put her hands in the water and grab the faucet, and she likes it when we clean her mouth because she gets to make funny noises and lick the water on our hands. She plays for a while after supper, and she likes to sit in Bryan’s lap while he’s on the computer while I do the dishes. Some nights she takes a bath, and she has recently discovered that baths are FUN! She likes it when the water is higher so she can bob around in it a little bit, and although she still doesn’t like getting water in her ears, she’s doing a lot better with water in general. She likes to splash a little bit, she loves to explore the shiny handle of the water stopper, and she enjoys playing with the water as it comes out of the faucet. After her bath, she always smiles if I turn on the bright lights above the bathroom mirror while I comb her hair.

She usually goes to bed pretty easily. We take her to the potty before bed (and numerous times a day), and she’ll usually go before bedtime. She’s not completely potty trained and we’ve had lots of setbacks in the past few months with all of the changes, sickness, and teething. She’s doing well, though, and whenever she has training pants on, she’ll let me know when she needs to go or just after she wets her pants, and she rarely has dirty diapers or pants but goes in the potty instead. After putting on a clean diaper, I usually sing her a little song and put her in bed, and she goes to sleep without much fussing.

I hope I will be able to make this kind of post a tradition for our children each year around their birthdays. It will be fun to have a record of what they’re like each year.

Oh wait, I just said children, didn’t I? 🙂 As a reward to my readers for making it all the way to the end of this post, now I’ll share some exciting news. I’m pregnant! 🙂 Praise the Lord! 🙂

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment